Do You Need a Wellness Vacation?

03/05/2019 Mind-Body Health Travel Health and Wellness Stress

In a perfect world, a vacation should automatically focus on your wellness. However, you may need to work a little harder to plan some time off that focuses solely on your wellness travel needs. Trust us, it’s worth the effort.

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Do you ever want to press the reset button? Start fresh and get back to you? If a little rejuvenation and renewal sound good right about now, then a wellness vacation might be just what you need. What is a wellness vacation? Isn’t that redundant? Isn’t a vacation, a period of leisure and recreation, already attending to your well-being and nourishment needs? Not necessarily!

Surely you’ve come back from a so-called vacation only to find that you’re in need of a vacation after your vacation; maybe you intended to read on the beach for hours and ended up entertaining the kids instead. Or that quality time you planned to catch up on your family reunion was spent bickering; now you’re home from vacation but emotionally exhausted. Start to think of a slightly different experience than overdoing it on piña coladas while getting sunburned by the pool in Maui.

What Is a Wellness Vacation?

A wellness vacation, a period of leisure and recreation with the specific intention to nourish and recharge you, both inside and out, and increase your overall well-being, is a well-worth-it experience. Even if you’re someone fortunate enough to enjoy your work or you manage to build self-care into your everyday routine, a wellness vacation is an essential element to living your best life possible. On wellness travel, you may experience:

  • Fresh, clean meals to nourish yourself from the inside out
  • Body services such as luxurious massages, sugar scrubs, facials, and a variety of rejuvenating spa treatments to nourish yourself from the outside in
  • Rituals for healing, spirituality, relaxation, and self-discovery
  • Nature’s therapeutic potential through outdoor adventures or plant-medicine journeys

Wellness Vacations Are Varied

Though a weeklong or month-long immersion into personal wellness is a wildly privileged opportunity, often only available to those with the excess means to take off time and spend money, a wellness vacation can take many forms. Whether you’ve got a day or a weekend, whether you plan to travel far from home or stay nearby, a holiday intended to help you feel good can make all the difference. A wellness vacation could be a weeklong restorative yoga retreat to the lush jungle of Costa Rica. Or a solo weekend getaway to a wellness resort or a cabin you rented on a vacation rental site. Or a six- to ten-day health-focused retreat at a wellness destination center.

When considering taking this kind of intentional wellness vacation, it’s important to consider a working definition of wellness. Wellness is the state of being in good health in body and mind. It is also the active pursuit of that overall sense of well-being. That being said, it’s important for you to define what being “well” looks and feels like for you. There are some universal non-negotiable elements in terms of health (food, water, shelter, clothing, sleep, warmth, and human connection), but wellness is also personal and subjective. For some people, physical wellness is most important. For others, mental health is a top priority. In Ayurveda, the ancient holistic health system, any disease or disturbance in the body-mind system leads to disease and feeling unwell.

Be Clear on Your Focus of Your Wellness Travel

When considering a wellness vacation, bear in mind your overall focus for the retreat or trip.

  • Is the aim of the trip improved skin health?
  • Sweaty, physical workouts designed for weight loss?
  • Long, seated meditation and mindfulness sessions?
  • Lectures on the science of well-being?

When making your choice for a dedicated wellness trip, search for a trip focused on the kind of well-being that you’re most interested. Do you want a trip isolating only one aspect of your being or a wellness vacation that will attend to your needs in a holistic manner? True wellness links all parts of your human experience and takes into account the fact that what happens in one part of the body-mind-spirit system influences all other aspects. True harmony happens when the relationship between the body and mind is cooperative.

Similarly, when considering taking this kind of purposeful vacation, it’s important to think about a working definition of vacation. As noted previously, a vacation is a period of leisure and recreation. But that can mean so many things! For one person, a camping trip to the local state park is a vacation. For another, that’s the epitome of stress! For some, a weekend wine tasting is a vacation. For others, that’s a nightmare! As you research retreats, getaways, and locations, bear in mind what will get you out of your regular routine and allow for a change of scene, while also increasing your happiness and sense of well-being.

What Happens on a Wellness Vacation?

There are some essential specifics of wellness travel. You will:

  • Get out of your regular routine. Hopefully you will try a new way of being, eating or experiencing life that will set you up for sustained bliss after the trip is over.
  • Share time with teachers who are dedicated experts working in their field of passion. There may be one-on-one sessions or large talks for all attendees. You can expect new perspectives and tips for taking what you learn on vacation with you as you head home.
  • Connect with like-minded folks. Unless you opt for a solo trip, sharing time, space, and energy with others interested in wellness is a positive aspect of a trip like this. You could be paired with your new best friend. You could choose to attend the trip with your mother-in-law. Or you could share a few wonderful days with new acquaintances and appreciate those sweet connections for what they are.

Though not all wellness vacations are the same, most will incorporate a digital detox, healthy foods, and attention to all aspects of your well-being: physical comfort, mental calm, and spiritual nourishment.

The wintertime may be dragging on for you. You may be at a time of transition. You might be someone in need of that vacation from your vacation! No matter the occasion, consider treating yourself to a wellness holiday and see how it can catapult your life into sustained bliss. Let’s look at the various elements of and subtle differences between retreats, getaways, stay-cations, and corporate wellness retreats.

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Rest and Rejuvenate on a Retreat

One option for your wellness vacation is to attend an organized yoga, meditation, or health-focused retreat. Retreat offerings abound! A solo teacher, a studio, or a wellness group usually organizes a retreat and most daily activities will be scheduled but optional. Retreats often feature daily group movement classes, clean eating, a variety of outdoor adventures, and the opportunity for a personal one-on-one session.

You could stay local or travel to a distant land to study with your favorite inspiring teachers. You could practice yoga above the rice fields of Bali, on the Aegean shores of Greece, or in the mountains of a National Park. You could attend a 10-day silent vipassana meditation retreat. Do you want to try rock climbing? Relax in a hammock most of the days? Take an inner journey with plant medicine? Go to a sweat lodge and come out renewed? Learn firsthand about the basics of Ayurveda?

There are week-long, two-week-long, and weekend retreats offered worldwide. Some retreats will be more relaxing and others will be more intensive, so do your research. A full panchakarma experience in India, for example, is a five-day to one-month long cleansing program that involves purifying rituals and the release of bodily fluids. A Chopra Center Perfect Health retreat, while also intensive, is more restorative and more of a luxury spa experience. Do your research and consider all the factors when choosing your wellness retreat.

Get Away on a Getaway

Another option for your wellness vacation is a short, casual getaway. This can be something just a few hours by car or plane from home that you organize yourself. Your wellness vacation could be for just one day or for a few nights focused on personal transformation. Encourage some good friends to get a cabin in the woods for the weekend or book that cute beach chalet for a solo trip.

A getaway can be a wellness vacation if you set up the conditions for wellness: set and write down clear wellness-based intentions for your trip, pack healthy foods, and plan out some special activities that truly enhance your well-being (think: putting your phone on “do not disturb,” setting an email away message, and packing your oracle cards).

Sometimes all you need is a day away to change your perspective and invite creativity! Airbnb and VRBO are good options for a variety of do-it-yourself wellness getaways. Or, weather and safety permitting, keep it low cost and sleep in your tent, camper van, or al fresco. Personalize your wellness getaway so you return home with some ideas for how to incorporate what you’ve practiced while away, into your daily life.

Stay Still on a Staycation

Another option for your wellness vacation is to go on a “staycation”—a wellness vacation that you experience from the privacy and comfort of your own home or town. You will clear your calendar, set that email away message, place the “gone fishing” sign on your bedroom door, and attend to your precious self for a set period of time. You could set aside an entire day, weekend, or however long you need and GO NOWHERE!

This kind of wellness vacation requires some preparation: take some time off but don’t travel anywhere, arrange for your responsibilities to be taken care of as if you were travelling, purchase nourishing food or juice ahead of time, set up some online guided yoga or meditation classes, take out your journal, books, and spiritual materials, and get cozy. You could organize your staycation wellness vacation: one day could be to declutter, clean, garden, and catch up on bills; one day could be to practice self-care (take that bath! do your nails! sit for a longer meditation!); and one day could be for trying a juice cleanse and some yin yoga. Online materials can support your personal wellness staycation, though the best part about this option is that it truly requires nothing!   

If you think a wellness vacation is just what the (holistic, Eastern-medicine-inclined, positive psychology trained) doctor ordered, treat yourself to a retreat, getaway, or staycation. A wellness vacation could be planned down to what you’re eating and doing each moment (someone else is in charge for a change!) or simply staying home and intentionally doing nothing for the weekend (doing nothing!) Enjoy some self-care, here or there, on your next wellness vacation!


Experience profound rest by attuning to the natural rhythms of your body at the Chopra Center’s Perfect Health, a six-day Ayurvedic cleanse retreat. Learn More.


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About the Author
woman smiling in yoga pose

Lena Schmidt

Certified Yoga Instructor
Whether it’s exploring the local trails, playing pretzel on the yoga mat, or diving into a book on inner peace, Lena loves an adventure. You can find her teaching yoga in San Diego, leading retreats near and far, and empowering others to be the change they wish to see in the world. Learn more about Lena at www.yoginilena.com The spiritual aspects of yoga have aided Lena in the never-ending search for peace, calm, and positivity within, and she’s passionate about sharing these tools with others. She is intentional about taking yoga off the mat and loves finding the bridges between the heart and mind, the individual and community, and mindfulness and expression...Read more